Mr. Vincent Strand, SJ (Wisconsin Province)
Regency Location: Creighton Preparatory School, Omaha, Nebraska
Hometown: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin
Entered the Jesuits: August 20, 2005
Education: Marquette University
Interests: basketball, baseball, fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking
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Vincent Strand, S.J.
Peace of Christ!
My name is Vincent Strand, SJ. I was born and raised in Dousman, WI, where I attended St. Bruno Parish and School. Upon graduation from Kettle Moraine High School in 2001, I spent four years at Marquette University, where I majored in biological sciences and theology. I professed vows in August 2007.
“You did not chose me, but I chose you” (John 15:6). Priesthood never crossed my mind with much seriousness until my first semester of college. That fall, I had an introduction to theology course with Fr. Raymond Gawronski, S.J., which opened to me previously unknown vistas of faith, discipleship, and God. In reading St. Augustine’s Confessions or the life of Mother Teresa—or more concretely through the Jesuits I met on campus—I began to see that some people gave themselves entirely to God. I realized that if one truly believed what we as Christians hold to be true, then indeed, a life lived entirely for Jesus Christ was the only life that was reasonable. As my aunt, a cloistered Poor Clare, once said to me, “Be a saint. In the end, nothing else is worthwhile or makes sense.” But more than coming to terms to the fact that such fervent discipleship is reasonable in the abstract, I felt deeply in my heart that God was calling me to such a life.
“…sell everything in order to buy the pearl of great price.”
This was the last thing I wanted. I had plans for my future: marriage, family, career aspirations, indeed all of the things one envisions for a “normal”, successful life. I knew that entering religious life would mean relinquishing all of these, to place them at the altar of sacrifice, to go and sell everything in order to buy the pearl of great price. As I prayed with the matter more seriously, I began to uncover that indeed, alongside all of the aforementioned desires, I had desires for priesthood. My heart seemed perpetually divided: on the one hand so attracted to the beauties of marriage and family life and on the other, to the countercultural heroism of consecrated life. My prayer for almost two years was simple: Lord, hit me over the head and make this clear. Finally, through no drastic event other than the quiet, persistent whisper of “Come, follow me”, I knew that the Lord had chosen me to serve him as a priest, and even more remarkably, that he was giving me the freedom to either choose that which he had already chosen for me, or like the rich young man in the Gospel, to refuse his invitation and go away sad. My senior year of college, I finally made my choice and began my application process to the Society of Jesus.
The best part of being a Jesuit is to be called to live entirely for Jesus Christ. To be called to go out into the world and preach the message of Christ’s redemptive love to all of humanity. To be called to the most intimate love possible between one’s own heart and the Heart of Christ. To a man considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life, I would say this: God has called you to greatness. Do not settle for mediocrity. He has called you to an “imperishable inheritance” (1 Peter 1:4), “to eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6: 23). Settle for nothing less. The Church and the world are in grave need of saints. Strive to be one. Keep your “eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). And finally, go forward with great love and courage, knowing that the Lord is with you always.
Do not be afraid.